Sunday, November 27, 2011

Joshua Tree and the Horrors of the Hamster Tube

As part of our ongoing efforts to resist the easy path of using our weekends to recover from the chaos of the rest of our week, yesterday we got up at 5:30 AM in order to go to Joshua Tree National Park, with our friend Anna.

Joshua Tree is located on the cusp of the Mojave and Colorado deserts, and contains features from both (crazy rocks, cacti, wild-eyed desert hermits that’ll use your bones for patio furniture).  It’s only three hours drive from Los Angeles, so I’m somewhat embarrassed we’d never managed to make it out there prior to this weekend, but it was worth the wait.
Amynah strapped Inara to her front in a baby carrier, and I strapped Sana to my back in another, and we hiked through the relative crowds of “Hidden” Valley and to the if-you-squint-it-looks-kind-of-like-a Skull Rock.
As night fell, I realized I had failed to take a picture of any of Joshua's Trees.

This, and my trip to Death Valley earlier this year made me realize how conditioned we are by the nature we grew up in – the first time Sana was in a Canadian/Eastern North American forest on a trip back to Canada, she was clearly freaked out by the density of trees closing in on her with oppressive verdancy. On the other hand, she was delighted to stomp her way through the desert sands of Joshua Tree, and examine the thorns and brambles of the various types of cacti. For my part, I couldn’t help but be unnerved by the wide-open spaces and the knowledge that there were poisonous snakes of uncertain temperament lurking about the rocks. Not for the first time, I realize that Sana is going to grow up in a different world than did I.

This being the first trip of this sort that I’d attempted with the babies, I was also left to reflect on how much less I learn from trips like these than I used to: I’m a compulsive reader of plaques, but I had to pass by all of the helpful explanations the National Parks people had posted at strategic points identifying the local fauna and flora, as well as historical tidbits (I managed to read on one that Hidden Valley had something to do with cattle rustlers, but got no further than that before having to stop Sana from leaping off a boulder five times her height).

 Skull Rock (official name)

Bum Rock (not official name)

Post Script: Scarier than my paranoia of rattlesnakes and Sana's non-comprehension of gravity was our dinner:  we went to a McDonald's with a play room for children, the centerpiece of which was a three-dimensional pipe maze, complete with netting, ladders and slides. Sana saw the bigger kids playing on it and wanted to go. Because I am both a sucker and a terrible parent, I let her. Of course, I went in with her. Never have I made a bigger mistake: the inside was cramped and redolent of children's hamburger breath and Dr Pepper-scented urine. Kids were appearing and disappearing around the corners like the creature from Alien that was terrorizing Sigourney Weaver in the air ducts. They were shouting at each other constantly, but the sound bounced around such that it seemed we were surrounded by a million of them. Sana freaked out and clung to me the whole way while I tried to navigate the maze on two aching knees and one arm to find the twisty slide of salvation. I had nightmares about it all last night).

1 comment:

Tasha said...

You need to make Sana more goal orientated. Tycho LOVES plaques. All plaques. They become a goal for any hike. And flagging.

And Tycho also gets stuck in those McDonald's playground thingys. I remember at Chucky Cheese, when he was 3, looking up at a window in this tube, as he looked down at me, weeping, "Help me Mama!" Based on my life experiences, I can't promise this will pass.